Valentine’s Day is one of those make-or-break holidays for gift retailers. They are selling "nice to have" items, not necessities. Many use some type of analytics to segment customers for personalized messages. It's not as straightforward as it sounds, especially if the organization hasn't committed to an enterprise-wide approach to using data. If the organization isn't tracking household spend across different buying channels over time (and multiple holidays), it could be wasting money on catalogs or failing to send the right marketing messages to those primed to buy.
One gift retailer has used analytics to figure out that there are some customers that only buy at a certain holiday (like Valentine's Day). Inundating these customer with messages at other holidays is a waste of money, even a turnoff. But sending a reminder message that “Your Aunt June would love some chocolates this Valentine's Day” before the holiday, triggered a purchase. This effort wasn't possible when different parts of the company held close to their own bits of data and ran promotional offers more from gut feeling than analytical thinking. It took an enterprise-wide effort – and a culture shift directed by C-level executives – to empower those targeted "Aunt June" messages.
Getting to that enterprise-wide view isn't easy. One way to approach it is to use the Information Evolution Model, an approach originally put forth by SAS Senior Vice President Jim Davis in the book Information Revolution: Using the Information Evolution Model to Grow Your Business. This is an enterprise and strategic organization-maturity model for identifying, evaluating and improving information use – one worth the time to learn.
As a global consultant for SAS, Aiman Zeid has spent years working with C-level executives promoting and developing strategies to encourage the use of analytics throughout the enterprise. His book, Business Transformation: A Roadmap for Maximizing Organizational Insights, will be published by the Wiley and SAS Business Series this March.